Paying it Forward for December

Hello!

I am letting everyone know right here, right now that if you ordered a book in my pre-sale event last month or if you order one now through 12/14/2020 and you think you know someone who would or could benefit from reading it I will send them a digital copy of it on 12/28/2020.

I have an army of supporters who have ordered telling me they know others who should have a copy.

To do this all you have to do is send me an email to carolelsanek@fractured.life and include their email address (with their permission to receive a copy, please). I will be sending out emails to those who have already ordered it.

I am doing this to pay it forward from you and from me. My book is so important to me because my goal in writing it was to help others, but I couldn’t write it without including the love story that still lives on.

Thank you all so much.

I DO NOT LIKE TURKEY

Breaking news; I do not like turkey. I have liked it in the past. I liked it as a kid, I liked it as a wife, a mother, a grandmother and this year I realized I do not like turkey.

I am pretty certain the reason I no longer like it is because when Larry died, he took all those turkey dinners with him.

He loved turkey. I would make a different recipe every so often and he never complained because he loved turkey. He did not mind when I stopped stuffing the damn bird, he just made his stuffing on the side and baked it in the oven.

Over the years I did begin to scale down on the size of the bird. I could eat one second meal of leftovers and after that every last morsel belonged to Larry and the dogs.

I even included a turkey story in my book “Fractured-Living with Grief”.

If I am ever invited to Thanksgiving dinner in the future, I will eat some dark meat. I will eat everything else on the table with one more exception. I absolutely cannot stand Green Bean Casserole. I know I am probably an alien from a different planet.

From now on it is a roast chicken for me, no more turkey and definitely no green bean casserole.

That face, a face only a mother could love, where is it’s mother? Oh probably in an oven somewhere.

Conjugating Grief

Conjugating is one of those words that takes us back to 7th grade English class. Once we have it down pat, it comes back to us when we start to learn a foreign language in 9th grade.

The verb “to be” constantly changes form and for some strange reason it has always resonated with me because I like grammar. I am certainly not perfect at it and I often need help with it. Grammar and conjugating verbs is something I have always had fun with and I also admit that I like to diagram sentences too.

Today I was researching quotations that have deep meaning and I came across one by Eckhart Tolle and as I read it I immediately was conjugating the verb “to be”. That is how engrained this is in me. I allowed it to take me down a different road as I thought about what he meant when he wrote it and as I dwelled upon it I found myself researching the word conjugate.

I know, undoubtedly you are wondering where I am going with this. What I did was look at all the definitions of the word and I was surprised to see that there are scientific uses of the word too. I won’t go into that because that would take me too far outside the boundaries of what I am writing about today.

It has been a while since I have posted. I have been busy doing pre-sales for my book (hint go to the top of this page and click “The Book” and you can receive a signed copy.)

Let me reel it all in and explain what spoke to me today. It was Tolle’s quote that sent me down the rabbit hole.

I will leave it here for you all to consider – it’s deep, I feel it.

Twenty Months Ago

Twenty months ago, Larry took his last breath and let go of all the footsteps he had placed on this world. He was never able to say goodbye, not in words. I was blessed to have had that afternoon where he held me close and caressed my head as I lay on his chest. My heart is filled with gratitude that he was able to get his message to me and I felt his love. He held me tightly and we danced. I laid my head on his chest as he laid in a hospital bed, I disconnected the alarms on his ventilator so we wouldn’t be disturbed, and we shared our love without words.

Twenty months later I am releasing the presale of my book “Fractured-Living with Grief” honoring his love, honoring the twenty plus years we had together, honoring all that he did for me, honoring the man he was.

Many of you who are reading this knew him well, and he left footsteps on your lives too. I love hearing you tell me how much you cared for him, how much you admired how he took care of me, how much he made you believe in love.

Welcome to the new website dedicated to our story of love peppered with hope and faith that when you reach this day you will have something to fall back upon in my guidance through the hardest days you will ever face.

You are here because you want to order a book, and the process is simple, just click on “The Book” on the menu at the top of the website and you will be taken to the order form.

Thank you for supporting me as I wandered through the wilderness of deeply painful grief. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for letting me cry. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

All my love,

Carole

Sometimes I just sit unable to move…

Yes, sometimes I just sit, unable to move. I sit in the living room and watch the water birds come to feed at the pond.

Other times I sit at my desk and just stare at my computer.

Words that used to come easily are difficult to find now.

Sometimes I just sit, unable to move.

I open the cards that have come in the mail. I sit there frozen while reading the kind words. Tears slide down my cheeks and fall on to my chest. I set them aside and let the tears slide.

I don’t get hungry often, but I know I need to eat. It is so difficult to make a meal without dancing around Willie, who is hoping something falls to the floor.

Sometimes I just sit, unable to move.

I want to move; I want to do the things I always did; I want the plans to keep moving forward, and then I remember I am alone. My partner, my best friend, my anchor in life is gone. Maybe she thought I was ready to handle my future on my own, but I don’t think I am.

SO:

Many times I just sit, unable to move.

A real blessing, a true unconditional love giver, my girl, my Willie.

My Heart is Crushed

Yes, my heart is crushed. I fall in and out of tears. My face is a mess. My eyelids are swollen, I cannot eat, I sleep fitfully and I have heart pain.

I keep asking why I am being tested. What have I done to deserve to have all this trauma again, all this pain?

My heart hurts. It is heavy in my chest. I have a lump in my throat and breathing is difficult.

Darling little Willie the one-eyed wonder dog left this world Sunday morning at 10:10AM and with her last breath my wilderness, that shitty wilderness of grief, opened up again. It thrust me to the very beginning of darkness, sharp edges, rough rocks tearing at my soul and scraping the skin off my body. I tried to wrap myself up and protect myself from the searing pain, but it took me to my knees and it is so much harder to get up this time.

The sweet angel I rescued almost 10 years ago had liver failure. There was no saving her, no treating her, there was nothing that anyone could do. I am devastated.

I don’t know how to pull myself up again. I don’t think I have the energy.

Darling Willie.

Worth Their Weight in Gold

The Importance of surrounding yourself with exceptional people is priceless.  In all the reading I have done in grief groups, grief articles, grief books and more, the one thing that stands out with the brightest light, is the advice people give that you will need to make some changes in whom you allow in from that point forward.

As I look back on the time since my great guy left this earth there was an immediate letting go of some people I knew who showed their collective asses.  They did things that were absolutely disgusting either to me emotionally through social media, or horrors done in public in a place where people stared.

It isn’t easy to let go of people; I know this, but when what they have to say is abusive, it’s a lot easier.

You can do it.

You actually will feel better when they are gone.

They are not your friends because your friends would never treat you that way.

Dump them, okay let them go easily, whatever just do it.

You will see those who love you, those who are loyal to your friendship, those who want to help you, they don’t leave.  As time goes by, they may not show up as often, but believe me they are still there.

Three of my newest friends are women I found friendship with two different ways.  One is a younger widow whose name was sent to me by mutual friends.  The other two I found in a grief group online and the connection is tight.

They also understand what grief is, what it does to us, and they will reach out when you need them to do that.

Then there are the new friends who will seek you out because they have warm hearts, and they want to be part of your growing circle.  Once you delete the bad ones the wonderful ones have more room and they will show up.

I promise.

Over the past several weeks a recent friend showed up, and she gave me vital legal information I needed to deal with a situation I needed help with, and I call her an emotional lifesaver to me right now.

Then a social media friend helped me greatly by asking her father, who is a very well-known veterinarian, give me a 2nd opinion for my sweet dog, and this brought me great relief.

I love my family; however, they live 2 days away and I don’t burden them with my grief.  Good and loyal friends do not mind being burdened by it and they will stick it out.

They are worth their weight in gold.

The best thing that will happen is that you move forward.  You will find yourself feeling better.  You will mourn, you will grieve, but you also will have a tremendous support system that you did not have before.

I have read your feelings about friends and family who ignore you.  I have read your sad words.  I have read about your loneliness and I promise you it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Take action.  Do the work.  Make the changes and do not feel guilty.  Letting go of people who are mistreating you is a marvellous thing, and they may not even realize it unless you tell them.

I have told people that I need to move forward from them because they have already moved forward from me.  Believe me, they won’t care.

One more time, the new friends you make and those who stick it out with you are worth their weight in gold.  You will be so emotionally wealthy.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Yes, I threw down the gauntlet metaphorically on Wednesday, even if the people in the world of definition say it isn’t used metaphorically.

Wednesday would have been our 20th wedding anniversary, and this year I planned to be in control of this special day.

I told friends it was okay to wish me a Happy Anniversary because in saying it they were acknowledging the love Larry and I shared.

I made a therapy appointment the week before and the two of us worked hard using EMDR to help me cushion the trauma in my brain about this day.

This explains what EMDR is:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories.

I had already done some somatic experience work in New Mexico. I was taught in therapy there to use the memory of the happiest day of my life, which was our wedding day, to calm me and restore balance whenever triggered with a lot of grief.

This past Wednesday had moments of having tears in my eyes and many more moments of total joy remembering the love, the happiness, the fun of that day.

Last year was horrid. I refused to have that happen again.

It didn’t.

My grief therapist told me that my resilience shines through because I have become my own grief expert. She is correct. I get online, I research, I read stories, and I celebrate my strength.

I also grieve. I will grieve Larry’s death for the rest of my life. Grief doesn’t end. I just live happier, I live in gratitude for being so loved, and I know how proud Larry would be right now if he could peek down and see me. Maybe he can, maybe he is.

The look of love.

I Never Question Feelings

I never question feelings and two days ago my BFF from ages 5-26 yrs old crossed my mind. We had a long friendship that went as some do when we marry, have children and one or the other of us moves quite a distance away.

We sporadically kept in touch and the last time I saw her was in 1992. We did so much together as we grew up I could probably fill a book. We were together all the time. We played, we read books while sitting in her tree, we ice skated, we swam, we played kickball with the entire neighborhood, we double dated, we fell in love and we were in each other’s weddings. She wanted to be a marine biologist and when her husband was offered a position near the shores of the Atlantic; we thought maybe she would.

The last time we were together as families, my youngest was 9 months old. We lived too far apart, and our families were young. Their parents had passed away and they didn’t come home to Cleveland any longer.

I went to visit them one more time when I lived nearer to them. We had lunch and we laughed a lot about our younger days.

Now and then I would Google her name and I read in 1997 her husband had a heart attack and had died. The doctors at Brooks AFB had told us when he was transferred here from Vietnam that his injuries were so severe that it would affect his life span. He was only 51.

I have no clue why she crossed my mind. I put her name in Google and was shocked to the core to read that she had been stabbed to death last year by her youngest daughter. I am in shock; I am sad. This friend whom I always thought would be the brightest of her other 5 siblings did not have the life and marriage we had daydreamed about.

All the news articles said was that they were arguing and I feel that they probably had been arguing for a long time considering her daughter was 29.

It’s terrifying to think your own child would kill you, but we know it happens. This is what she said at the scene: This happened during an argument the two had had over two days regarding her mother “doing as (she) asked her to do.”

2 days of arguing, 2 adults living under the same roof and one just broke picked up a chef’s knife poking and threatening her mother and then…

Sometimes I wish I was making a story like this up and writing it here as fiction, but you all know I am not a fiction writer.

I am not sure if my friend ever found happiness.

I am not sure if she ever found happiness. The life she had dreamed about was drastically altered when her husband was burned and wounded so badly in Vietnama. He was a walking poster boy for burn wounds that could not be fixed. Children were afraid of him. To me he was my friend’s husband a man I had known for years and I didn’t see his scars.

Her scars were on the inside. She cringed when she saw the way people looked at their family. There were other problems with their oldest son, and then the 3rd child was born challenged. I think it was more than she could take and more than anyone ever deserved. To die at the hands of your child holding a knife is a nightmare.

Rest in peace, at least you are both together again and I remember fondly how much you loved each other when you both first met, how wonderful your wedding was (even though I did not look good in a lime green bridemaid’s dress.)

We had so much fun over the years, and I wish your life had turned out better, but who knows, maybe she just accepted what she was given and turned lemons into lemonade.

Goodbye Brooks Running Shoes

It was in the spring of 2010 when I gave a talk to a group about the importance of having an annual mammogram.  As I reached the end of my talk and took questions a woman asked me if I had ever considered walking in the 60 mile 3-Day walk.

She caught me off guard with her question because they had asked me to take part in this walk in the past and I had always said no.

Now I was in front of someone face-to-face and saying no became an impossibility.  I said I would give it serious consideration. 

I turned to look at Larry, and the look he gave me back was one I could read well.  It was the look that said, “What the hell are you thinking?”  He knew me well, and in knowing me that well he knew the rigors of training were not something I wanted to do because I don’t like to sweat.  Training throughout the summer to walk 60 miles would mean sweating, a lot of sweating.

Sweating is not me.

Naturally my phone rang several days later, and it was that woman who wanted to know if I had reached a decision.  I felt myself taking a deep breath, and I heard myself saying I would do it.

Larry’s face was saying “Oh, no you didn’t.”  My scrunched-up face had a look saying “Oh, yes I did.”

Now came the work.

The work began with shopping for the correct footwear including sox and shorts and shirts made for sweating (there was that word again.)

Choosing the correct shoes is vital in training.  Our training schedule had us walking 3 days a week in increasing distances.  I had registered online and the chief complaint of other walkers was blisters. 

I had no idea that the bulk of my research from the get-go would be about avoiding blisters, but it was.  I went right to marathon runner’s pages to see what they do to take care of their feet and I bought every item that they suggested.

I had:

  • Bandaids
  • Moleskin
  • Corn patches
  • Tincture of Benzoin
  • Duct tape
  • Gold Bond Powder
  • Body Glide
  • Petroleum jelly

And undoubtedly other things, however the most important would be my shoes.

I drove an hour away to a shoe store that specialized in walkers and runners.  This store measured my feet and showed me 3 shoes that would be the best ones for me.

I chose the Brooks running shoes.  There were even lessons in the proper way to put the shoes on, the proper way to lace the laces, and the right sox.

10 years have passed since I embarked on this journey.

I raised $6800.00.

I had blisters.

I had minor podiatric surgery to remove a callous under a blister.

I would sweat so much that I showered in my shorts and shirt just to peel them off after every training walk.

With all the supplies I had purchased Larry and I got it narrowed down to painting my feet with Tincture of Benzoin (it helps the tape stick), then taping my feet in duct tape being careful to leave no spaces between the edges of the tape and also not tape over other tape.  The Gold Bond powder was next, then the sox, and my shoes.

I still have those shoes.  I still walk in those shoes.  They represent the fact that I raised a helluva lot of money for breast cancer research, and I walked those goddam 60 miles (plus all the miles in training) and I sweated my ass off.

More than that though, they are a link to my terrific husband, and a link to how proud he was of me.

The photos of me along the way, the dance I performed on the finish line, and the pride I had in myself knowing that the sweating was worth it are all an enormous part of the glorious summer of 2010.

I put those shoes on for the last time this morning.  I know it’s time to retire them.  They have more than served their purpose, and now a hole has started in the top of one shoe, so yes, I will wash them and dry them and put them in a special place in my closet.  You see every time I look at them I see my handsome Larry down on one knee helping me put my shoes on and reminding me to hit the back of the shoe against the floor to make sure my heel was in the proper alignment. Then he would lace them up for me and send me on my way with a kiss.

Here’s to my Brooks running shoes. You earned your retirement after serving me so well for 10 years. Goodbye.

A great 10 year relationship between my feet and my Brooks running shoes.